the Beheaded Buddha

2021, ...

The severed head becomes an object of possession—a commodity. The beheaded body remains in its place, a relic of cultural fracking; the act of beheading a religious artifact is a mode of acquisition, harvesting the remaining fruit of these impoverished times.

 

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The Beheaded Buddhas, 2021 


When looking at the severed head of a Buddha in a museum, I had never asked myself: “Where is the body of this head?” It doesn’t take a detective’s trained eye to notice the signs of fracture, the broken edges on the neck of the exposed and bodiless head. It was due to ignorance that I did not ask the question. I ignored the discontinuity of the figurative and its absence because of the exhibition itself. The museum seemed to confirm that no further explanation was needed, and the disembodied “head on a stick” did not produce any cognitive dissonance that would have led me to question the scene. I simply didn’t need to ask: “Where is the body of this head?”  And yet, very curiously, the first question I asked myself upon seeing the Buddha statues without their heads in Angkor Wat was insistent: “Where is the head of this body?”

The essay "The Beheaded Buddha," in Decapitated Economies, intercalations 5, eds. A.-S. Springer and E. Turpin (Berlin: K. Verlag and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2021).

the publication can be found here (external link)

Selected Works

The Beheaded BuddhaProject type

The Other NefertitiArtistic Intervention

Tendaguru MuseumProject type

Fossil FuturesExt.Research

AboutProject type

We RefugeesProject type